MEP Richard Howitt, who launched the EU Multi-stakeholder forum on CSR in Brussels, told PRWeek's Saint or Sinner - Your Company's Reputation in Your Hands conference on Wednesday that it was a 'matter of when and not whether' legislation on non-financial reporting would be drawn-up.
Howitt said minimum standards on CSR reporting needed to be introduced to help cut out the hype and ensure companies are genuinely socially responsible.
'We have to move beyond this regulatory versus voluntary debate and recognise that there needs to be a mixture of both,' he added.
The EC-backed forum will develop policies with input from a range of groups - it comprises 50 members, including business leaders and public officials.
The launch of the forum follows nearly two years of consultation on CSR, which saw the publication of a Green Paper in 2001 and a White Paper earlier this year.
Howitt said the forum's launch marked 'the achievement of getting CSR on to the European agenda'.
But he stressed that policies being developed would complement rather than replace the UK Department of Trade and Industry's company law reform proposals. These may require an element of non-financial reporting from next year.